When your dog’s paws itch, she licks or chews to ease the irritation. You may not know why her paws itch, but simple remedies often ease her discomfort.
Keeping Paws Clean
Your dog’s paws interact with the world. Her hair and skin pick up dirt, pollen, lawn chemicals, carpet fibers, parasites and assorted debris. Inspect paws, running fingers gently between the pads. Pick out any seeds and other fragments. Wash her paws with a wet cloth or soak the feet in a water bath. Sometimes hosing off her feet gently with cool water after a walk and drying with a towel is enough to stop itching feet. Repeat as needed.
Bathing Your Dog
Many irritants affect your dog’s body as a whole, but manifest outwardly as itchy paws. Bathe her whole body with an oatmeal or hypoallergenic shampoo, then rinse well. The bath removes pollen, dust, chemical residue and contact allergens while soothing skin. Work the shampoo into her ankles, between her toes, and into the foot pads. Fleas are especially annoying and get between the toe pads. Keep her fleas in check, as these pests trigger allergies and carry disease. Before and after the bath, inspect for ants, mites and other invaders. Check her armpits, as pests can travel down her legs to infest the paws.
When itching persists and your dog chews, she damages the skin and opens it to infection. Your vet may recommend OTC medications. Hydrocortisone sprays for dogs help ease localized itching, especially if an insect bite or small rash is the culprit. Topical ointments and sprays offer temporary relief, allowing the skin to heal. Some antihistamines offer itch relief, especially when allergies cause the problem. Ask your vet about generic allergy tablets and use only vet-approved antihistamines.
When the itching is serious or the skin is raw, your vet may recommend prescription relief. Remedies such as medicated shampoos, antibiotics, injections and other medications relieve itching paws and reduce or prevent infection. The skin is a defense against infection, so when your dog injures her paws while licking or biting, she creates favorable conditions for secondary infections. Treating the paws increases her comfort and reduces other problems. For recurring itching paws, your vet may suggest supplements such as fish oil capsules or omega fatty acids.
Use dog booties for outdoor walks. When your dog is sensitive to grass pollen, this keeps seeds off her feet. Wipe her feet and face with a damp washcloth after outdoor exposure because her nose and face pick up irritants that can be transferred to paws. If she is allergy-prone, use a dehumidifier or room air filter in her sleeping area. A HEPA filter picks up pollen, dust and other airborne particles. This means cleaner air for you and your dog. Vacuum indoors often and wash her bedding in perfume-free detergent.
Phyllis Benson is a professional writer and creative artist. Her 25-year background includes work as an editor, syndicated reporter and feature writer for publications including "Journal Plus," "McClatchy Newspapers" and "Sacramento Union." Benson earned her Bachelor of Science degree at California Polytechnic University.